Ten months and 380 Premier League games later, we’ve finally got a champion. Manchester City has managed to retain the Premier League title for the first time, in their club history. Fans of the Premier League (which many consider to be the most exciting soccer competition in the world) have experienced perhaps the most interesting title run-in in the history of this 27-year-old competition.
Although skeptics claim that the reason why Man City and Liverpool managed to obtain such a high level of points is due to the rest of the league lacking in quality, it doesn’t change the fact that both teams were exceptional. The title was decided on the final day of the championship, with Man City finishing first with 98 points, just one above the second-placed Liverpool.
To pip their rivals to the title, Pep Guardiola’s team went on an incredible 14-match winning run, which includes wins against their bitter city rivals Manchester United, in whose shade they’ve been pretty much their entire history. As a matter of fact, their last loss was against Newcastle on January 29.
Liverpool fans, on the other hand, will feel devastated that their incredible Premier League season comes to an unworthy end. They are left empty-handed despite amounting to an incredible 97 points, which is their highest tally in Premier League history. With this number of points, they would be league champions in any other season, except for the last one, where Man City had a record-high 100-point campaign.
The last time Liverpool were hailed English champions was back in the season of 1989—1990. Next year will mark 30 years since their last title — a terrifying wait for a club of their stature. During the Premier League era, their greatest rivals, Manchester United (Man Utd and Liverpool are undoubtedly the two most legendary British clubs) won 13 trophies, overtaking Liverpool on the title leaderboard, with 20 championships, as opposed to Liverpool’s 18. In the 1980s, Liverpool was the more dominant side of English soccer. During the nine seasons they had Bob Paisley as their manager, Liverpool won 21 trophies. However, they dropped off in the 1990s, when Alex Ferguson made Man United the leading force in the soccer’s founding country.
The most painful thing behind this season will be the fact that they were incredible — just one loss in 38 matches, which makes them one short of matching Arsenal’s 2003-2004 invincible season. As Vincent Kompany, Man City’s captain, put it himself, even if Liverpool ended up being the champions, they would still be worthy winners. Ultimately, what cost them the title were their last two draws — against their bitter rivals, Manchester United and Everton.
Liverpool’s season is not yet over. On June 1, they face Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League final, after producing a historic comeback against Messi’s Barcelona (they overturned a three-goal deficit and won 4:3 on aggregate). This will be Liverpool’s second final in a row, having lost the previous one to Real Madrid, which finished 3:1 to the Spanish Galacticos. The Reds have their hopes of adding their sixth European crown, having completed a league double over the Spurs (they won both matches with a 2:1 result). The North London side, on the other hand, will look for some silverware in their first ever Champions League final.
Guardiola Can’t Stop Winning
Pep Guardiola, the Spanish football mastermind (or Catalonian, if you will), retained the Premiership, which represented the first ever back-to-back title in the Citizens’ history. This means that Guardiola has now won 9 titles in his 11-year-long career — a record worthy of his status as the world’s best manager.
This is Man City’s sixth title overall, joining Chelsea and Sunderland in the sixth spot on the Total Titles table. This is their fourth since the Sheikh Mansour took over the club. In the last eight years, Man City was crowned champions four times, making them the dominant figure in this current Premier League era. Guardiola is on route to finishing the domestic treble, with the FA cup final to be played against Watford next Saturday (they already have the Premiership and League Cup medals around their necks).
Overall, this is Guardiola’s 26th trophy, which gets him above Jose Mourinho, who sits at 25. The next step in this side’s evolution would be winning the Champions League, something they have never succeeded to do. After the match, Guardiola said the team was exhausted, but it was all worth it in the end. He thanked Liverpool as well, as, in his own words, they pushed each other to reach incredible heights.
Another sign of just how unlucky Liverpool was not to finish as the season’s champions are the individual honors their players received. The Reds’ goalkeeper, Alisson Becker, received the golden glove for most clean sheets (games without conceding a goal), with the Brazilian being able to save his goal 21 times. Mo Salah and Sadio Mane, two-thirds of the Liverpool’s overall strikeforce, both received the golden boot for scoring the most goals. They share it with Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, as they all finished the season with 22 goals. Chelsea’s Eden Hazard was voted the most creative player, since he had 15 assists — more than anyone else.
What to Expect Next Season
At this moment in time, it’s hard to imagine any other team joining Liverpool and Man City in the title race. Third-placed Chelsea ended up 25 points behind Liverpool. Manchester United, the worst of the top 6, was closer to the relegation zone than to the title. They have a long way ahead of them if they want to be England’s number one side again. Club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over from Mourinho, but after a promising start, they faded away and had just two wins in their last 12 games.
Relegated sides Fulham, Huddersfield, and Cardiff will play their soccer in the Championship next year, England’s second tier. We already know that Norwich and Sheffield United are going up, as four other teams are still in the playoffs for the last promotional spot — Leeds United, Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion, and Derby County.